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OPINION PAGE - DECEMBER 29, 1999 - JEFFERSON, GA

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Editorials
The Jackson Herald
December 29, 1999

Top stories of the century
1. The opening of Interstate 85 through Jackson County in 1965.
The opening of I-85 through the heart of Jackson County has had the most profound impact of any event during the last 100 years. The road forever changed the character and destiny of Jackson County by opening the once rural, inaccessible area and linking it to Metro Atlanta and the entire Southeast. Jackson County is what it is today because of I-85.

2. The murder of solicitor general Floyd Hoard, August 7, 1967.
When a local bootlegger had solicitor general (now called district attorney) Floyd Hoard killed, it awoke a citizenry to the real depth of the county's crime problems. All through the 1950s and 1960s, local citizens tolerated the growth of organized crime in Jackson County. Some became part of the corruption, others simply turned a blind eye to it. But after the killing of Hoard, it became impossible to ignore the crime issue. Slowly, Jackson County shook off its stigma as a haven for crime, but it took the brutal slaying of Hoard to begin that process.

3. Arrival of the boll weevil in Jackson County in September, 1919.
Cotton was once "king" in Jackson County, at one time covering over 70,000 acres. The early 1900s were mostly good to county farmers, but then the economic effects of World War I hit and the farm economy suffered. But the real cotton killer was a tiny bug called the boll weevil that hit here in 1919. Farmers had long known about the weevil and knew it was coming. Consequently, some began to plant less cotton and diversify into other crops. Still, the weevil hit at a weak moment in the county. The Depression a few years later further hurt the cotton economy and by the 1930s, cotton as the main local agricultural crop had been dethroned.

4. Creation of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in 1901.
Although county commissioners are today major players in local affairs, that wasn't the case 100 years ago. Only in 1901 was a board of commissioners organized, and it took many more years until this group really became important. Still, Jackson County's political leadership during the latter part of the century largely came from this board.

5. The 1974 conviction of A. D. Allen on theft charges that kept him in prison until his death in 1999.
The murder of Floyd Hoard was a key turning point for Jackson County, but also important was the 1974 conviction of Commerce crime kingpin A. D. Allen. For two decades, Allen led much of the organized crime in the county, mainly involving car and clothing thefts. He seemed untouchable, until the FBI got involved and finally had Allen put in jail for the remainder of his life.

6. The 1995 shared-tax agreement between Jackson County's three school systems.
With three school systems in Jackson County, the political infighting over education has long been a concern of county citizens. For many years, some called for the three systems to be merged to resolve these complex issues. School merger was a controversial topic for much of the 1970s and 1980s and involved a number of lawsuits and other actions. But in 1995, a series of unique contracts was signed between the systems that, for the most part, put an end to the merger issue. By agreeing to share tax income in certain districts, the three systems resolved disputes over annexation by Jefferson and Commerce, thus opening the door for mutual cooperation.

7. Approval of a referendum to restructure the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in 1999.
Although this hasn't yet had an impact on Jackson County, this change will have a profound impact on the county in the 21st century. By changing the county government structure to a professional manager with a larger board of commissioners, the dynamics of how the county is administered will change dramatically. The big story for this century is that county citizens saw the need for a change and developed the political will to make it happen.

8. Rise of the textile industry 1900-1980.
Although both of Jackson County's main textile industries began in the 1890s, it was only in this century that they reached their zenith. For many decades, Harmony Grove Mills and Jefferson Mills provided the main non-farm employment in Jackson County. In addition, the Hardman and Bryan families, which owned the two mills, were key players in local political circles, as well as on the state and national levels. Socially, economically and politically, these two mills, and others that followed, had a large hand in shaping Jackson County for most of this century. It was only in the last two decades of the century that a growth in imported textiles and the development of other local industries saw the textile industry wane in local influence. Both the Hardman and Bryan families sold their textile mills to larger companies in the last decade.

9. Rise of poultry farms as a key agricultural industry, 1924-present.
When M. E. "Ellis" Murphy began large-scale poultry farming in Talmo in the 1920s, little did he know that commercial poultry farming would come to dominate Jackson County agriculture for decades to come. Even today, with all the industrial and residential growth happening, poultry farming is still a major industry in Jackson County. On the strength of poultry, Jackson County ranked seventh in Georgia in farm income for 1998.

10. Development of a county water system in the 1980s-1990s.
Jackson County was slow to develop rural water infrastructure, but since the late 1980s, the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority has come a long way toward meeting those needs. Within the next few years, the basic water infrastructure should be in place and the authority is now taking on the task of developing an unincorporated sewage system, mainly for industrial and commercial growth. Access to water has been a key part of the county's growth through the late 1990s and will continue to affect the county's development pattern.

11. The 1926 race for governor between Jeffersonian John N. Holder and Commerce's Dr. Lamartine G. Hardman.
The October 1926 runoff between these two men from Jackson County for governor created a bitter political split locally that even today hasn't totally vanished. Hardman won the election, but the emotions of the race lingered for decades and contributed to a political rivalry between the county's two largest towns. Although muted in recent years, the rivalry at one time was bitter and fed into athletic competition between the town's two high schools.

12. The arrest of Sheriff John B. Brooks in September, 1963.
Public corruption was a major problem in Jackson County for much of the 1960s. Nowhere was that as evident as in the county's sheriff's department where in 1963, the county's top law officer was arrested on auto theft charges. It would be another decade, however, before the acceptance of public corruption was swept away.

13. Integration of public schools in 1970.
The dynamics of race relations were long a part of the Southern political and social culture. But while Jackson County had moments of race-baiting and radical segregation, by 1970 such feelings had waned and the integration of public schools was smooth and quiet. It was one of the county's finer moments.
14. The 1984 election of Sheriff Stan Evans.
If the 1963 arrest of a sheriff was a low point for Jackson County, the 1984 election of Stan Evans as sheriff was one of the high points. Evans put an end to the county's reputation as a haven for crime by raiding the remaining bootleg establishments and forcing the closure of a large cockfighting operation. Evans brought respect back to local law enforcement in a way that had not been done for decades. It was another turning point for the county.

15. Move of the Jackson County High School from Braselton to Jefferson in 1979.
After years of leadership neglect, the county school system decided to get serious about its high school in the late 1970s. By moving the school from Braselton to Jefferson in 1979, the county system forever committed itself to providing a quality education for its students. The move also had other impacts as well, both in how it pulled students from Jefferson and Commerce high schools and in changing the dynamics of how the three school systems interacted. It would be many more years before most of those issues would be resolved, but they would have perhaps never been addressed had school leaders not made that 1979 move.

16. The 1983 recall of four Commerce city councilmen.
Seldom are public officials thrown out of office in mid-term, but in 1983, Commerce voters did just that with a recall of four city councilmen. The recall happened after months of bitter acrimony on the council. The events led to the creation of a city manager government and the restoring of financial stability to the city.

17. The development of Walnut Fork Industrial Park at I-85 and Hwy. 129, 1987 to present.
By building a private industrial park at I-85 and Hwy. 129, Pattilo Construction forever changed the shape of Jefferson's business community. The industrial firms that have located in the park contribute to both the city and county tax base and have provided local employment for the growing county. The majority of the county's industrial growth has taken place in Walnut Fork, enough that Jefferson's tax base surpassed that of Commerce's during the 1990s.

18. Disbarment of Judge Maylon B. Clinkscales in 1961.
Another example of local public corruption in the 1960s. Although Clinkscales avoided trial on the accusations, his disbarment was another embarrassment to Jackson County and came on the heels of a 1959 investigation of county government that also hinted at public corruption. The disbarment, along with the Brooks arrest, led to a great deal of mistrust of local law enforcement that took decades to overcome.

19. Killing of Sheriff C. D. Barber on Jan. 19, 1919.
Although this death did not have a long-term impact on the political or social dynamics in the county, it was a major event of the early era of this century. The sheriff's killer, Hollis Landers, was later hanged in the Jackson County jail.

20. The winning of the state AA football championship by the Commerce Tigers in 1981.
OK, so this may not have shaped the political or social structure of Jackson County, but it was a major event of the last three decades. Twice in the 1970s, Commerce played for the state title and lost. But in 1981, the Tigers won the crown with a 28-14 victory over Greene County. Other local sports teams and individuals have won state titles, but this 1981 victory is the only time a Jackson County school has won a football crown. The victory was a major psychological boost to Commerce school patrons because it came on the heels of an exodus of CHS students to the new county high school in Jefferson.



Column
By Mike Buffington
December 29, 1999
20th century brought much scientific change
When future historians regard the 20th century, it will likely be remembered as the "Age of Science and Technology." Mankind perhaps made more scientific progress in the last 100 years than in all the previous centuries of his existence.
It's hard to imagine today that when this century began, our grandparents and great-grandparents were born into a world that had seen only marginal technological changes from the time of their ancestors. For all the social and political upheavals wrought in the 1700s and 1800s, the everyday existence of most people had changed little during the same time. Only the arrival of train travel in the 1800s comes anywhere close to the kinds of changes wrought in our own times.
At the dawn of this century, our forebears were still at the mercy of a world that was little understood, a world that was larger and stronger than all the collective knowledge of mankind. By the end of this century, mankind had mastered, to an extent never imagined, the world around him.
We conquered both air flight and space flight; we tamed many diseases with the discovery of antibiotics and have begun to unravel the genetic code of life itself; we harnessed the power of the atom for both peace and war; and we created a thinking machine and used it for work and play with the advent of the computer.
All of those things not only had a profound effect on our lives, but also will continue to affect the course of human history. The century's explosion in scientific knowledge is perhaps just the beginning - who knows what our children and grandchildren will discover in the century just ahead?
It's interesting to ponder just why this century has seen such rapid scientific successes. Is it just coincidence that so many breakthroughs happened in such a short time?
I think not. The successes of this era came because of two intertwining trends: A high level of political and economic stability and a parallel growth in the ability of mankind to communicate.
Despite two major world conflicts, and numerous smaller wars, the American reservoir of political stability and economic power in the 20th century helped to maintain the march of human discovery. For all our internal political and social battles, our nation had a historic golden era of stability and growth this century. That stability allowed technological advancements even when the scientists were native to other lands - Albert Einstein and Werner Von Braun are two that quickly come to mind. That stability and economic power also helped rebuild the world after two world wars, thus maintaining some level of worldwide stability over a long period of time.
But along with that strength was an explosion in communications. Not since the advent of the printing press in 1455 has the world witnessed such a revolution in how mankind communicates, both individually and collectively. From the growth in telephones early in the century, to radio, television and the Internet, the 20th century has been marked by increasing channels of dialogue and information. The world shrank considerably in the last 100 years as these methods of communication grew.
This profusion in the ability to communicate led to the diffusion of scientific knowledge at a rate never before possible. While political and economic stability were the muscles of scientific innovation, communication was the steroid that bulked it up.
So the challenges of the next century won't just be in the halls of scientific research. Without a stable and strong environment, and the ability to communicate freely, scientific research can't progress.
The ability to discover great things in the coming century will only be as strong as our collective will to maintain political stability, economic strength and freedom of expression.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

Letters
The Jackson Herald
December 29, 1999

Comments on article about BOC and CUB-JC
Dear Editor:
I'm writing this letter because I'm sure you've made some mistakes in last week's Herald article regarding the $5,000 county check Pat Bell and Henry Robinson wrote to CUB-JC's lawyers. Pat and Henry surely know that they cannot spend the money of the Jackson County taxpayers in such a fashion.
Your article implied that they wrote a check without knowing what they were paying for. No request for qualifications or request for proposal notices were printed in The Herald seeking such services. Are we to believe we have no assurance that the firm of Decker & Hallman meets the county's contractor standards, maintains the minimum insurance coverage required by our insurance company or bylaws, or agreed to complete a specific scope of work for a specific price on a specific schedule?
Was it just a $5,000 feel-good gesture removed from the taxpayers pockets by two confused commissioners and given to the lawyers of a group of people who spent money they can not raise on their own? CUB-JC has been begging for donations for years from the people of Jackson County. Surely they have more money than they need. Surely they would not have to convince Pat and Henry that the only way they can pay the bills they ran up is if they have the force of law behind them compelling the people of Jackson County to contribute to their lawyers or be thrown in jail.
You also stated that Pat and Henry did not consult the county attorney regarding this payment. Of course Mr. Fitzpatrick knows that to issue a check directly to Decker & Hallman without his review (as the contracted law office of the county) of the billing records which the invoice represented was, at best, highly unusual and suspect, at worst, blatantly illegal. The landfill process was halted on a lesser technicality. Pat and Henry must have been in a real hurry to cut that check to CUB-JC's lawyers. Could it be that is because they have seen a lot of Hilton Bik lately? Mr. Bik (the leader of CUB-JC) has had a few rezonings and zoning variances go his way lately because Pat and Henry have voted for them. That would be the same Hilton Bik who got a little huffy when I spoke against giving tax money to his private legal battle. Of course, he said he was only involved because he was concerned about the environmental impact of a landfill, not because he was getting ready to get out of sheep farming and start building subdivisions and was concerned about his property values.
Your article also leads one to believe that Mrs. Bell does not understand the difference between the filing of an amicus brief and a vote to expend county funds. Surely one who has held such a position as long as she has knows the difference. Decker & Hallman's invoice was for legal services rendered "in representing Jackson County." Of course there must be some contract in place documenting the exact scope of work and contracting directly with Decker & Hallman, isn't there?
I was at the meeting when Pat and Henry voted to allocate $5,000 to assist CUB-JC in their private legal battle. The way it was presented at that time, the $5,000 was to go to the county attorney's office to assist CUB-JCs lawyers in litigating their suit against the landfill. The county attorney would choose the issues relevant to the interests of county, and offer such services up to a maximum of $5,000 in billed hours and expenses. This would have been a legal, even though inappropriate, use of tax money. Pat Bell said at that meeting, and I quote, "We are not giving anybody anything." The Herald has implied that Pat Bell lied to the taxpayers of Jackson County. Was that your intent, or did I miss something?
If your article is accurate, then I assume that almost anyone could send an invoice to the BOC with only an amount and a return address on it, and Pat and Henry would dash to the checkbook.
The major role of government is to promulgate laws and to enforce those laws. For a local government to become involved in such a private lawsuit is to admit that that local government is not capable of performing it's most basic function. It is as ridiculous as Atlanta's lawsuit against gun manufacturers; if you don't want guns in your city, try to outlaw them. If you don't want landfills in your county, try to outlaw them. Legislate, don't litigate.
I wonder if I could get the BOC to write a $ 5,000 check to "Recall Pat and Henry Now!"
Sincerely,
Emil Beshara
Pendergrass


Concerned with lack of respect
Dear Editor:
In this busy world of ours, we all are in such a hurry, especially at this time of year, that we not only do not remember the "reason for the season" but lose sight of common courtesy and respect for others. This was brought to my attention in a heartless way when on Monday, Dec. 20, at approximately 3 p.m., my father's funeral procession was trying to get to Evergreen Memorial Park. While we were trying to get on the bypass in Athens, a young man driving a white pickup from a business in Jackson County pulled in between the hearse and the family cars.
If you are reading this, you hurt an already heartbroken family with your lack of respect very much. We all understand that you may have been in such a hurry that you might not have realized what you were doing. But my question to you is, what if that had been your father? How would you have felt about this? Let's all remember that when we see a funeral procession, to pull over and give this family some respect. It only takes a minute of our time and means so much to them.
My entire family wishes to express our appreciation and thanks to each of you for all you did for us not only at the loss of Father but also my daughter. Your thoughts, cards, calls, prayers, food, flowers, memorial gifts and visits meant the world to us. God bless each of you and best wishes for a wonderful new year.
Sincerely,
Janice Logan
Jefferson



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